Boston Red Sox: Philadelphia Phillies
PHILADELPHIA -- The rest of the team is taking the bus to New York.
Jacoby Ellsbury might just sprint alongside.
The Boston Red Sox leadoff man reached base five times and stole a club-record five bases in Thursday night's 9-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, giving the teams a split of their home-and-home, four-game interleague series.
When Ellsbury wasn't running, the Sox were slugging, as Jonny Gomes hit a pinch-hit home run in the sixth, and David Ortiz, playing at first base for the first time this season, hit his ninth of the season to extend the 4-2 lead the Sox held after the first inning.
Left-hander Franklin Morales gave up a two-run home run to Delmon Young in the first but held the Phillies to a single over the next four innings to earn the victory in his first appearance of 2013, having missed the team's first 52 games with a bulging disk in his back, followed by a strained pectoral muscle.
Morales stepped in to start when Clay Buchholz was pushed back from Friday to Sunday and Thursday's scheduled starter, Jon Lester, was slotted into Friday night's start in the Bronx against the New York Yankees. Morales was backed up by a collaborative effort by four Sox relievers -- Craig Breslow, Clayton Mortensen, Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Bailey -- who held the Phillies to two hits the rest of the way.
In each of the four games against the Phillies, Ellsbury led off the first inning with a base hit and came around to score, the purest possible definition of jump-starting a team's offense. Thursday night, he singled off Phillies starter Jonathan Pettibone, took third on a single by Daniel Nava, and scored on an infield out by Dustin Pedroia, who brought home Ellsbury with the team's first run all four nights.
Pedroia did it four different ways, too: home run Monday, single Tuesday, sacrifice fly Wednesday, groundout Thursday.
Ellsbury walked and stole second in the second, singled and stole second in the fourth, was hit by a pitch in the sixth and stole second and third, then singled in the eighth, stole second and took third on a throwing error by Phillies catcher Erik Kratz. Oddly, none of the stolen bases resulted in a run scored but made for a long night for Kratz.
Ellsbury leads the majors with 21 stolen bases; in 2009, when he led the majors with a club-record 70 stolen bases, he stole his 21st base on May 27, in the team's 47th game. The Sox have played 55 games so far in 2013. Ellsbury has been caught just twice in 23 attempts this season for a 91.3 percent success rate. In 2009, he had been caught six times by the time he stole his 21st base.
Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had been the one exploited on the bases the night before, when the Phillies stole safely four times. Thursday night, Saltalamacchia erased Domonic Brown attempting to steal in the first inning and also hit two RBI doubles.
The Sox tacked on three more runs in the eighth after scoring a total of four runs the past two nights against the Phils.
The Sox head into the Bronx and a three-game series with a two-game lead in the AL East -- their biggest since May 6 -- against the Bombers. The Yankees have lost a season-high five in a row after being swept in four games by their subway rivals, the Mets.
"I think through the first 50-plus games, I think both teams have answered questions. They've met challenges head on, personnel changes to the roster," Sox manager John Farrell said before the game. "I would expect [the series] to be not only a focal point, but one our guys are certainly looking forward to.
"I think we know about ourselves, which is most important to us: where guys slot in, how guys perform. We're going in there again not at full strength because of some injuries, but we haven't used that as a crutch, and the expectation stays the same regardless of who's in the lineup. That is, to win, and that is to hopefully win the division title."
An All-Star in his first season with the Philadelphia Phillies, Papelbon spoke candidly about leaving the Red Sox as a free agent this past offseason, acknowledging that Francona's ouster played a large role in his decision.
"I'd say it closed the door," Papelbon said during Monday's media availability session from the All-Star Game at Kansas City. "Not 100 percent, but I wasn't gonna go there and not know what manager I'd be playing for."
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PHILADELPHIA -- Seven weeks into the season, the Boston Red Sox have already started five center fielders, which is what happens when the MVP runner-up, Jacoby Ellsbury, dislocates his shoulder 10 days into the season.
Ryan Sweeney ended up there almost by default, the Sox having already played Cody Ross, Jason Repko and Marlon Byrd in center before Bobby Valentine gave Sweeney, who had spent all his time in right field previously, his first start there eight days ago.
The change of real estate paid off splendidly for the Sox on Saturday night, as Sweeney made a diving catch that ranked with Ellsbury’s finest, overshadowing the four home runs the Sox hit in a 7-5 win over the Phillies.
Sweeney sprinted far to his left, then left his feet to steal extra bases from Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies catcher who had laid into a 59 mph eephus pitch from Vicente Padilla with two on in the seventh and the Sox ahead by three.
Two runs surely would have scored, and the Sox would have been hard-pressed to protect what had once been a 5-1 lead, built on home runs by Mike Aviles; Will Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia back to back; and David Ortiz.
As it was, the Phillies kept the pressure on the rest of the night, scoring a run in the eighth and leaving the bases loaded when Shane Victorino popped out, and putting two more runners on in the ninth before Alfredo Aceves struck out Hector Luna to end a four-out, nail-biting save.
The Phillies made the most of a startling six infield hits and a two-run home run by Freddy Galvis to push the Sox, but Boston held on to square this series at a game apiece.
Aviles’ home run was his first ever to lead off a game and sixth of the season. Middlebrooks and Saltalamacchia went back to back, and Ortiz, playing first base in a National League park, hit his ninth with a man on.
The win went to Jon Lester, who worked a shaky six innings.
PHILADELPHIA -- This is the only way it could end, right?
Jonathan Papelbon, who shipped out of Boston, facing his former teammates for the last three outs?
"I've been looking forward to this series since the day I signed here," Papelbon said before Friday's game.
"Facing old teammates, bragging rights," he said. "It's like you play with your brother in the backyard for so many years, you want those bragging rights. I don't want to have to hear it from [Dustin] Pedroia, somebody like that, text messages. I want to be giving it to him. It'll be fun."
Papelbon had hoped for a piece of David Ortiz, but he grounded out as a pinch hitter to end the eighth.
Instead, the scheduled hitters were Kelly Shoppach, Daniel Nava and Marlon Byrd, none of whom Papelbon had played with in his final season in Boston.
There would be no Dropkick Murphys. The entrance music was Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls."
But the rest of the shtick remained the same. The hat pulled down over his eyes, the long lean forward, the penetrating stare.
Shoppach reached on what was scored an infield hit to open the inning, then Papelbon retired Nava on a tapper to first.
And then the night took an added dramatic turn, when Byrd was called out on an eyelash-close play at first, bringing Bobby Valentine scurrying out of the dugout to differ. Valentine got his money's worth out of the argument, hopping into the air to re-enact how Phillies first baseman Ty Wigginton had come up on the throw, before umpire Gary Darling, who towered over the Sox manager, finally had enough and tossed Valentine.
It was Valentine's first ejection as Sox manager and 38th of his career, and came with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel watching from an upstairs box, having been suspended a game for an argument that had gotten out of hand.
Papelbon struck out Nick Punto to end it for his 12th save and a 6-4 Phillies win.
The flip side of the finish was the start. Daniel Bard, who even Papelbon thought would be his successor as Sox closer, had a troubling start, spotting the Phillies four runs in the first after he walked the bases loaded. Bard walked five and hit a batter in five innings, has walked at least four in each of his past three starts, and has walked 24 in just 42 2/3 innings, an unacceptable number.
The Sox wasted a home run by Cody Ross (his eighth of the season), one by Adrian Gonzalez (his first in 110 at-bats) and another by Mike Aviles (his sixth of the year).
The former Blue Jay is 6-2 with a 1.64 ERA for Philadelphia. Today's the rubber match in this three-game set. The hot-hitting David Ortiz is not in the lineup today (remember no DH) despite having a career .273 average with six homers and 24 RBI in 99 at-bats against Halladay. The Sox's Kevin Youkilis has a .352 lifetime average with one homer and seven RBI against Halladay.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, cf
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2b
3. Victor Martinez, c
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1b
5. J.D. Drew, rf
6. Adrian Beltre, 3b
7. Jeremy Hermida, lf
8. Marco Scutaro, ss
9. Tim Wakefield, RHP
Red Sox manager Terry Francona was finally able to insert outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury back in the lineup tonight. He is playing center field and batting leadoff.
To make room for Ellsbury on the roster, the Sox designated outfielder Jonathan Van Every for assignment. The 30-year-old Van Every has appeared in 22 games with Boston since he was acquired from Pittsburgh on April 24. He has gone 4-for-19 (.211) with a double, home run, RBI, six runs and two walks.
Here are a few other pregame notes:
No cause for concern: It’s not too often you see Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia in a slump. Because of that, Francona said he’s not concerned that Pedroia is 1-for-11 in his last three games. “He won’t be in it very long,” Francona said. “Sometimes when we’re not scoring, he takes the burden and you can see it in his swings. It’s a great quality, but sometimes it gets you into a little bit of trouble in your at-bats.”
Varitek gets the start: With Tim Wakefield starting on Sunday, Francona thought it best to have Jason Varitek catch Matsuzaka tonight, so Victor Martinez can serve as the knuckleballer’s batterymate tomorrow.
Cameron gets day off: Red Sox rehabbing outfielder Mike Cameron (abdominal tear) was given the day off at his rehab assignment with Double-A Portland. He is scheduled to play on Sunday and he will be re-evaluated.
Big Mac: With Ellsbury back for the first time since April 11 after a stint on the DL with a hairline fracture in four ribs on his left side, Darnell McDonald’s playing time will be limited. The journeyman outfielder has been a spark for the Sox since he was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on April 20. He has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games. Overall, he’s hitting .266 with three homers and 11 RBIs with the Sox.
In his Sox debut, he produced a game-tying pinch-hit two-run homer in the eighth inning against the Rangers and then ended the game with a two-out walk-off single in the ninth.
“Right away he got some big hits for us and he hit left-handers especially well. He made some intelligent strong throws,” said Francona. “When you reach down to Triple-A, I don’t know if you’re going to get a guy who hits .380 and wins the Gold Glove. I thought he did a really good job. He showed up and tried to win. It was impressive.”
Boston starter John Lackey worked only five innings and allowed four runs on six hits (two home runs) with five walks and three strikeouts. The right-hander drops to 4-3.
The Phillies’ Ryan Howard hit a solo homer in the fourth inning before teammate Jayson Werth crushed a two-run shot into the upper deck in left field in the fifth inning.
Victor Martinez counted for Boston’s lone run with a solo homer in the top of the first inning off Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels, who finished seven innings and allowed only one run on three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
The Sox send Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-1, 7.89 ERA) to the mound on Saturday against the Phillies’ Kyle Kendrick (2-1, 5.24).
Even wearing Philly Red, Pedro Martinez is thinking about Red Sox fans. When addressing the media Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, preparing to pitch Game 6 of the World Series on Wednesday against Andy Pettitte and the Yankees, Pedro said he still considers himself a Bostonian and has a special place in his heart for Sox fans.
Here are some of his comments:
On why so many Red Sox fans are rooting for the Phillies in the World Series: "I know they don't like the Yankees to win, not even in Nintendo games."
On his relationship with Sox fans: "I'm pretty sure that every Boston fan out there can feel proud that I'm going to try and beat the Yankees and I'm going to give just the same effort I always did for them. They're special fans and they will always have my respect."
On former Red Sox teammate and current Yankee Johnny Damon: "He's a tough out and he's going to give you a battle and he's not going to get unraveled for anything. He's always going to make it fun. J.D. is just a special human being and special player. I'm glad he's doing well, too. That's one of the guys I will always root for."
On how he expects to be remembered: "I'm pretty sure my name will be mentioned. I don't know in which way. But maybe after I retire, because normally when you die, people tend to actually give you props about the good things. But that's after you die. So I'm hoping to get it before I die. I don't want to die and hear everybody say, 'Oh, there goes one of the best players ever.' If you're going to give me props, just give them to me right now."